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Getting started with OpenStack and Designate

Note: This guide has been merged into the official Designate documentation. You can see that document here:

A few weeks ago my team at Rackspace began investigation into the DNS as a Service application of Openstack, Designate. I’d like to share the method that my team and I formulated for getting a development environment for Designate up and running quickly. This set-up doesn’t include an OpenStack installation so there is no integration with Keystone or Nova. It’s the simplest possible installation, a great way for anyone to get started in contributing to OpenStack. Credit to the folks working on Designate for the original document.

Initial setup

The first thing you need is an Ubuntu Server (12.04). I recommend spinning up a Cloud Server with Rackspace. It’s relatively inexpensive and very slick. Assuming you have access to a server we can start installation.

Install Designate

1) Install system package dependencies:

$ apt-get install python-pip python-virtualenv

$ apt-get install rabbitmq-server

$ apt-get build-dep python-lxml

2) Clone the Designate repo off of Stackforge:

$ git clone

$ cd designate

3) Setup virtualenv:

$ virtualenv --no-site-packages .venv

$ . .venv/bin/activate

4) Install Designate and it’s dependencies

$ pip install -r requirements.txt -r test-requirements.txt

$ python develop

Note: Everything from here on out should take place in or below your designate/etc folder

5) Copy sample config files to edit yourself

$ cd etc/designate

$ ls *.sample | while read f; do cp $f $(echo $f | sed

"s/.sample$//g"); done

6) Install the DNS server choose between


$DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt-get install pdns-server pdns-backend-sqlite3
#Update path to SQLite database to /root/designate/powerdns.sqlite or wherever your top level designate directory resides
$ editor /etc/powerdns/pdns.d/pdns.local.gsqlite3
#Change the corresponding line in the config file to mirror:
#Restart PowerDNS:
$ service pdns restart

7. If you intend to run Designate as a non-root user, then sudo permissions need to be granted:

$ echo "designate ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL" | sudo tee -a /etc/sudoers.d/90-designate

$ sudo chmod 0440 /etc/sudoers.d/90-designate

8. Make the directory for Designate’s log files:

$ mkdir /var/log/designate

Configure Designate

$ editor designate.conf

Copy or mirror the configuration from this sample file here.

Start the central services

#Initialize and sync the Designate database:
$ designate-manage database-init
$ designate-manage database-sync
#Initialize and sync the PowerDNS database:
$ designate-manage powerdns database-init
$ designate-manage powerdns database-sync
#Restart PowerDNS or bind9
$ service pdns restart
#Start the central service:
$ designate-central

NOTE: If you get an error of the form: ERROR [designate.openstack.common.rpc.common] AMQP server on localhost:5672 is unreachable: Socket closed Run the following command:

$ rabbitmqctl change_password guest guest
#Then try starting the service again
$ designate-central

You’ll now be seeing the log from the central service.

Start the API service

Open up a new ssh window and log in to your server (or however you’re communicating with your server).

$ cd root/designate
#Make sure your virtualenv is sourced
$ . .venv/bin/activate
$ cd etc/designate
#Start the API Service
$ designate-api
#You may have to run root/designate/bin/designate-api

You’ll now be seeing the log from the API service.

Exercising the API

Calls to the Designate API can be made using the following format:


Enter in a web browser, curl statement, or ReST client any of the commands listed in the Designate Documentation.

You can find the IP Address of your server by running:

 wget -O - -q ; echo

If you’d like to see an instance in action, go here:

A couple of notes on the API:

  • Before domains are created, you must create a server.
  • You can read the ReST API Documentation here

Happy Designating! If you would like to contribute to Designate, come and join us.

About the author

Tim Simmons is a Rackspace intern on the Cloud DNS team. Recently, the team evaluated the OpenStack DNSaaS solution, Designate. Tim took an active role in the investigation; he wrote a “Getting Started” guide which is published above. He also wrote a guide on using Designate, which will be published here next week. Tim continues to play en essential role in our next generation DNS offering.

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Tim Simmons

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